Summary of all Evidence For and Against Cate’s Loyalty
Original testimony first taken June 1872 before Special Commissioner Hyberger in case no. 15.774
No. 1 - Statement of William Cate
Claimant (Cate) is a farmer, residing near Cleveland Tenn, and is 59 years of age (in 1872). Took the amnesty oath to the U.S. in April 1864, was required to do so before he could get paid for seven horses furnished by him to the U.S. He was arrested on three occasions by Confederates but released after short detentions, never took any oath or made any promise to get away from them. Confederates took cattle , corn and fodder from him in 1862 for which they paid him about $3000 Confederate money. He was charged with feeding and harboring Union men and threatened with a heavy tax if he did not join the soldiers aid society, refused to join however. He contributed money on several occasions to aid Union men to get across the lines and gives the name of Capt. Norman as one to whom he contributed; gave information to Union men at Cleveland, claimant’s house was the stopping place of parties escaping to the Union lines. On one occasion, after a fight, concealed six Union soldiers from the Confederates who were searching for them, and afterwards sent them with a pilot to the Union lines. His son Henry was in the Confederate army, had not lived with his father for six or seven years previously; never aided him. Says he was obliged to get passes from the Confederate authorities, in order to go about anywhere, but he never took any oath or pledge to get them. He voted against the ratification of the ordinance of secession and sympathized constantly with the U.S.
James S. Robertson, 42, bookseller, Cleveland, has known claimant 15 years, was intimate during the war, residing 2 miles from him. Witness was Union and conversed with claimant often. Can’t detail any conversation in particular but says claimant’s sympathies were on the side of the Union. Claimant’s language would have prevented his establishing his loyalty to Confederacy. Union men were restrained and could not express their real sentiments.
Jesse H. Gaut, 48, attorney, Cleveland. Resided 2 miles from claimant during the war and knew him intimately. Witness was Union and conversed with claimant frequently. Claimant always expressed himself against secession and rebellion. Can’t repeat his language, is ‘fully satisfied’ he voted against secession. Says Cate was regarded by both Union men and rebels as loyal to the U.S. Recollects claimant being under arrest in 1862. “They were abusing him generally and cursing him and calling him a damned Lincolnite”. Tucker, a confederate soldier, called him this.
James H. Brown, 60, Georgetown, Tennessee and Isaac Lowe (testify to property).
Commissioner Hyberger endorses Robertson and Gaut as prominent Union men, but thinks that Cate “desired very much to save his property and that he was not an active adherent to the Union cause”. This is based on what he could learn from other parties.
In April 1874, claimant (Cate) submitted testimony in support of his claim. Taken before Commissioner Ramsey, in which he gives the following additional evidence in regard to his loyalty. In regard to the property taken from him by the Confederates, he says he never sold them anything, but that after it had been taken he took whatever they saw proper to pay and said nothing about it. He had a son under 21 years, who left and went into the federal lines to avoid conscription by the Confederates and served in federal army until the close of the war. Claimant assisted this son to go. Says he voted against separation. (indecipherable line)
Joseph H. Davis, 65, shoemaker, lived 2 1/2 miles from Cate during the war and conversed with him often. Says he (Cate) was an unflinching Union man but at the same time a prudent man; was trusted by the Union men there. Witness was Union. Says Cate’s public reputation was that of a Union man, and that he was on good terms with the federal officers and was regarded as loyal by them.
Pleasant M. Craigmiles, 60, banker, Cleveland. Lived within 2 1/2 miles of Cate during the war; talked with him often; he (Cate) was what might be called an enthusiastic Union man; public reputation was that of a loyal man. Witness was loyal.
Col. J. B. Boyd, 43, Cleveland, trader. Raised and commanded a regiment stationed near Cleveland from fall of 1864. Has known Cate 12 or 15 years. Stayed at this house before federals came; conversed with Cate and knows he was Union; much was his public reputation.
Testimony Against William Cate’s Loyalty
The case was sent to Sp. Agent Brownlow for investigation and in May 1875 he reported against it, based on the following testimony taken by him.
Leonard Carruth, 53, farmer, (Riceivlle?) Tennessee. Witness’s farm adjoins claimant’s; has lived within a mile of him since February 1863; did not know Cate until then. Witness was Union and had to leave Georgia because of his Union sentiments. Conversed frequently with Cate in 1863 and subsequently Cate declared to witness that his sympathies were with the South. Knows that Cate’s neighbors regarded him as a rebel and spoke of him as such. After the war, heard Cate boast that he had held his own with the Yankees. “That he had out-smarted them and had lost nothing by them:. Cate told witness that when the Yankees came for his wheat, he had told them it was “sick” or damaged wheat and thereupon the soldiers left without taking it, saying they had had enough of that sort of wheat. This wheat he afterwards sold for $3 a bushel. Cate told witness all this in witness’s house in the presence of his family. There is no difficulty between witness and Cate.
Ainsworth E. Blunt, 41, farmer, Cleveland. Witness is postmaster of Cleveland and was in Union army. Saw nothing of Cate until witness returned to Cleveland in 1864. Witness does not know of Cate’s doing a disloyal act but from his association and deportment does not consider him to have been loyal; Union men do not regard him as loyal. Heard Cate say after the war, that he had lost nothing by either side; other citizens have told witness they heard Cate say the same; names them.
Justus Campbell Steed, 54, farmer, near Cleveland. Lived on adjoining farm to Cate during the war; considered Cate loyal until near the close of the war, then heard so much of his talking on both sides that he didn’t know what side he was on. Cate had protection papers from both sides and a son in each army. Thinks Cate’s neighbors doubted his loyalty towards the close of the war. Cate told witness that he had lost nothing by the federal army and described how he had secreted his wheat and grain and c (corn?); also repeated the same story about “sick” wheat that Carruth relates. Does not think Union men would have trusted themselves in Cate’s hands while escaping to Union lines. Captain Norman was witness’s uncle and a man of property; does not believe Cate ever assisted him with money; Cate is too close to lend money without ample security. Rebels butchered on Cate’s place 2 months or longer. Cate never complained to witness about it; doesn’t think Cate lost half he claims; thinks he made money by the war; is friendly with Cate.
John F. Larrison, 66, farmer. Lived within a mile of Cate; saw him frequently during the war. Says Cate was on both sides. Union people distrusted him; rebels considered him a rebel; was in debt when war began, but bought a four thousand dollar farm when war closed and is now well-off. Cate told witness he lost nothing by the war. Never heard of Cate’s aiding Union men to escape; had protection paper and guards from rebels. Rebels took property from witness and the loyal men but spared Cate; did not disturb him. His having a son in each army gave him protection from both sides. Does not believe Cate helped Norman; Norman told witness that he did not regard Cate as Union; Norman lent money but never borrowed it.
Claimant (Cate) submits testimony in rebuttal as follows:
J.F. Campbell, 31, Athens, merchant. Lived within 2 1/2 miles of Cate’s until 1863. met him frequently. Cate told him he was opposed to secession; knows personally that Cate fed Union solders who were secreted in a straw-stack on his place in August or September 1863; saw and talked to the solders at the time, they were in uniform. The same might Cate’s son Gus and witness took the soldiers to Mr. Cobb’s and he took them to the federal lines. Thinks Cate took dinner out to the soldiers himself and at night went out and brought them in to supper. Thinks Cate’s reputation was that of a loyal man. Witness was a federal soldier and Cate knew it. Remained at Larrison’s all night on their return and told him all about the secreting of the soldiers.
Jesse H. Gaut, (Cate’s previous witness). Knows that claimant purchased beeves for a barbecue given to the returning Union solders of his county in October 1865 and was one of the most active managers of the affair. Witness identifies the letter of John C. Gaut (answered) to Gen. Thomas commending Cate to him as a loyal man; says Gaut was Thomas’s “Counsel and reporter as to loyalty”.
Herman Foster, 55. Was introduced to Cate by Col. Beard on the day of the barbecue. Beard introduced Cate “as one of the staunch Union men of East Tennessee”. Mr. J.L. Kirby-a leading Union man, introduced him again to Cate in almost the same terms, as one of their strong Union men of lower East Tennessee. Other Union men did the same. Since then has heard Cate express himself as loyal; never heard his loyalty questioned.
William H. Low, 54, blacksmith and constable, Cleveland. Has known Cate 23 years; lived 2 1/2 miles from him; was intimate during the war. After the taking of Fort Sumter, Cate and other Union men put up a large pole and raised the Union flag at Cleveland; and it stood there until the Confederates compelled them to take it down. Witness was loyal, has had a claim allowed him; never heard Cate’s loyalty questioned.
W. (S.?) Montgomery, 54, Cleveland, merchant. Witness was loyal. knows that Cate was actively engaged in procuring and raising the liberty pole as stated by previous witness. Cate expressed Union sentiment always to witness; his public reputation was that of a loyal man. Cate came twice to witness and got Confederate money exchanged for State money, stating that it was to be used by Union men who were escaping through the lines.
Meredith M. Legg, 64. Lives about a mile from Cate and did during the war. Always regarded Cate as loyal because he talked that way to witness; such was his public reputation. Witness was loyal.
R.J. Cate, 26, son of Cate. Testifies to property.
J.B. Boyd, repeats his previous testimony as to Cate’s loyalty.
Claimant (Cate) files original papers from General Howard’s Provost Marshal (dated December 15, 1863); and Captain Gordon, Acting Inspector General (dated March 18, 1864), certifying that Cate was loyal and as such entitled to protection.
James F. Leeper, 23, Cleveland, testifies to property and adds that Cate’s reputation was that of a loyal man; never heard it questioned.
G.A. Cate, 28, son of Cate, testifies to property and adds that Cate always advised him to enter the Union army, which he did, and served 2 years; he also advised his older son Henry to join the federal army.
Captain W.L. Cate, 35, cousin of Cate, teacher. Heard Henry Cate say during the war that his father (William Cate) was opposed to his entering the confederate army. Witness was in federal army; says Cate’s reputation was that of a loyal man.
James H. Swan, (colored) testifies to property.
Anthony Carter, (colored) 61, blacksmith, Cleveland. Repeats statement of other witnesses in regard to the liberty pole. Cate talked with witness during the war and from what he said knows he is loyal; colored people generally so regarded him.
William Cate (claimant) recalled: Did not know Carruth (witness against him) until December ‘63. Saw him but seldom and had no intimate acquaintance with him until harvest of 1865. Denied that he ever sympathized with rebellion or told Carruth he did. All he has said is, that he desired to see the South again prosperous. Denies that federals ever wanted to obtain wheat from him. Tried to sell wheat to federal commissary, but they wanted flour. Saved this wheat from rebels by putting spoiled wheat on top of it in the (corner?) and has often related this circumstance since the war; told Carruth about, but never mentioned federal soldiers in this connection. Has had a misunderstanding with Carruth about property matter; declined to stay a judgment against Carruth about 18 months ago; since then they have had no dealings. Denies that he ever told Captain Blount or any other person that he had lost nothing by federal or Confederate army; on the contrary he stated in the presence of Captain Blount that he had sustained heavy losses by the Union army. He claims that Captain Blount and himself have been on very intimate social terms, visiting each other frequently but in the spring of 1860 he refused to become a surety on Captain Blount’s bond as Postmaster and since then there has been a coolness between them. He says his (Cate’s) associations have never been with rebels, though since the war his business relations may have thrown him into such association though not on party grounds. He never had protection papers from the rebels as Mr. Steed has stated. In October 1864, Mr. Steed and Cate had a difficulty about some of his hogs that got into Steed’s corn; Steed killed eleven of them, hard feelings arose and they have had no dealings with each other since. Says Steed was present and saw the federals taking Cate’s hay in 1864, and also saw rebels using it in 1862-3. Has often conversed with Steed about his (Cate’s) losses by the federal army. Claims that Steed did know about his secreting three federal solders for he told him of it at the time. Says the rebels butchered on his place without consent and took his hay against his will, he “got almost nothing for it”. Denies Larrison’s statements. Cate was not on friendly terms with him during the war and they never conversed together. He details at greater length his services in aiding and assisting Union refugees and deserters from the rebel army; also in regard to the liberty pole. Attaches subscription (see exhibit A) showing that he (Cate) gave $10 for the purpose, Captain Blount 50 cents, and none of his accusers except Captain Blount, were present at the barbecue or subscribe towards the expense of it. Makes statements in regard to property, contradicting Agent Brownlow’s report on that point. States that he secretly got some of his rebel neighbors who were under (?) obligations to him, to draw up and sign a petition and forward it, and in that way several prominent Union men, whom he names, were released from imprisonment by the rebels.
Joseph H. Davis (recalled by claimant), was Clerk of the County Court from 1862 during the war. Union men of Cleveland used to meet secretly at his office to consult and devise ways of assisting refugees and Cate was one of the Union men who met there in this way; nothing was concealed from him. In one instance Cate contributed money in his office to purchase shoes for escaping Confederate soldiers. Names the Union men who then met together, including Cate. Regards Steed and Larrison as Union, but neither they nor Carruth ever met at these meetings.
Leonard Carruth (recalled by claimant). Saw Cate hunting for his hogs taken by the 5th Tennessee Cavalry. Heard (J.N. ?) Cowan call Cate a rebel; he said that Cate “blew hot and cold”. Steed also spoke of him as a rebel. Does not remember anyone else who did. Understood Cate to say it was the federals and not the confederates whom he deceived about his “sick” wheat.
Captain A.E. Blount (recalled by claimant). Estimates Cate’s crops. Thinks he heard Cate say, in August 1864, that he had lost as much or more than any other farmer in the county. Says he introduced Cate to Union officers after the war as a staunch Union man. Carruth and the Steeds told witness that Cate said he had never lost anything by either army. Cannot name any disloyal associates of Cate’s except Mr. Hartwick, that was since 1868. Remembers Cate’s assisting at the Union flag raising in 1861.
John A. Steed, 28, druggist, Cleveland. Lived adjoining Cate. Remembers rebels using his hay in 1862. Saw U.S. mules pasturing on Cate’s land in 1864. Never told Captain Blount that Cate had said he never lost anything by either army. Remember federals taking Cate’s sheep in 1863; also heard at the time of Cate’s secreting federal solders in his straw-stack and assisting them to escape to Union lines.
J.F. Larrison (recalled by claimant). Noticed 2 large ricks of hay on Cate’s place soon after rebels left there in 1863; therefore doesn’t think rebels could have used his hay. Doesn’t remember federal horses pasturing on Cate’s land, “but there might have been”. Understood rebels took his hay in ‘62 and paid for it; saw rebel cattle in his field in winter of 1862-3; heard that rebels took his cattle in ‘63. Remembers three federal solders that Gus Cate and James Campbell brought to his (witness) house; don’t recollect where they said they had been concealed. Witness went with them all to Cobb’s house and Gus and James returned to witness’s house and stayed all night. Says that refugees and deserters frequently came in the neighborhood and he (witness) assisted them. Cate professed loyalty always to witness but has heard Carruth and J.C. Steed say that Cate made money by the war; they also doubted his loyalty, and said that the rebels gave Cate protection papers. Witness does not know this personally. His “impression” is that Cate had a chat with him and told him that he had not lost anything by the war. From what Steed, Carruth and others have said, witness thinks that Cate was poor at the beginning and rich at the end of the war. Knows nothing about this personally. Admits that Cate made money from the products of his farm and his stock. Steed has said that witness became disloyal by voting for (Senter?) after the war. Witness says he had a difficulty with Cate in 1859 and also in 1861, but claims to have been friendly during the war; has not visited Cate except on business since 1861.
Mrs. Sidney Henderson, 69 Cleveland. Was present when Cate asked federal quartermaster for voucher for straw and hay; interceded for Cate because he was a Union man. Saw large quantities of hay being hauled from the direction of Cate’s by the federals in 1864; was told it was Cate’s hay. Has heard Captain Blount call Cate “one of the strong Union men of the county”. Knows that Captain Blount fled to Cate’s house for protection on one occasion when the rebels were expected in town. Recollects Captain Blounts bringing Cate to her house to dinner and introducing Cate to the Union officers as one of the staunch Union men of the county. Also remembers conversation at that time as to how Cate fooled the rebels about the “sick” wheat. Captain Blount was very intimate with Cate and his family; visited them often and had them dine with him.
Col. D.M. Nelson, 30, Cleveland. Was on General (Gillem’s ?) staff U.S. and has been U.S. Assessor. Did not know Cate during the war but has always heard Cate spoken of as Union.
Samuel Grigsby, 80. Lived at Cleveland during the war; talked with Cate and he always spoke like a Union man. has always heard Carruth speak of Cate as loyal until Cate refused to go security for him. Carruth was much disturbed of his refusal.
John A. Hague, 29. Was in federal army; lived at Cleveland. Relates Cate’s services towards raising the liberty pole. Witness was paid $5 by Cate for hauling the pole. Witness was one of three federal soldiers that Cate secreted and fed. Also saw three other federal solders that Cate had secreted in his straw stack when pursued by the rebels. Saw federals horses pasturing on Cate’s land. Says all the Union men regarded Cate as loyal.
Herman Foster (recalled). has been present with Captain Blount and heard Cate tell of his losses by the armies and how he deceived the rebels by putting sick wheat on top of his good wheat. Cate always expressed strong loyal sentiments in all such conversation. heard cate tell Carruth about the wheat and how he deceived the rebels; never mentioned the federals at all. Has heard Carruth, J.C. Steed and Cate conversing together about their mutual losses by the armies; they sympathized with each other. Has heard Carruth speak of Cate as Union; never as anything else.
Thomas L. Cate, 42, merchant, Cleveland. (nephew of Cate) Was arrested by rebels and confined until released on the petition of citizens of Cleveland; can’t name the Union men who aided in this. Knows Cate was union from first to last; never heard his loyalty doubted until Cate voted for Seuter in 1869.
James McGhee, 53, farmer, near Cleveland. Was present when Cate brought a petition to Cowan’s for signature asking the release of some Union men of Cleveland who had been imprisoned by rebels; witness signed it, and names others who did; the prisoners were released soon after; this was a private matter; paper was signed only by well-disposed Confederates as a personal favor to Cate. Has always regarded Cate as loyal.
Thomas Rains, 48, miller. Was a federal recruiting officer and piloted men from the rebel into the Union lines. has heard that Carruth reported Union men to the rebels. Always regarded Cate as Union. Never heard his loyalty questioned.
D.B. O’Neal, 46, merchant, Cleveland. Was one of the party of Union men that used to meet in Cleveland to devise ways to aid Union refugees and recalled Cate met with them and assisted as much as anybody. Does not remember seeing any of Cate’s accusers at such meeting; was very much surprised to hear lately that there was a doubt of Cate’s loyalty; never had any such doubt himself, nor heard anyone else doubt it before.
Thomas A. Cowan, 26. Cate’s father was a rebel, but has always heard him speak of Cate as Union before his death; is satisfied the rebels all regarded Cate as Union. Has always heard Carruth speak of Cate as loyal.
C.L. Hardwick, 48, merchant. Cleveland. has bought all Cate’s grain for many years; knows Cate must have had much more than is claimed by him. As a bank officer witness would not consider Blount or Carruth’s note for $25 as good; would not accept it. Cate’s loyalty has never been doubted by either party; never knew of confederate giving protection papers to anybody; it was not their custom to do so. Has heard that Blount’s hostility to Cate arose from Cate’s refusing to become his surety on his official bond.
Joseph Calloway, 27, farmer, Cleveland. Knows that the Union men of Murry county, Georgia (where Carruth lived) had no confidence in him; Carruth was on good terms with the rebels and witness’s father on one occasion hired Carruth to go and get some hounds that rebels had taken from him and Carruth succeeded in getting them back for him. Has heard it reported that Carruth gave information to the rebel enrolling officer of Union men who were liable to conscription. Witness’s father directed witness to Cate at Cate’s house when he was escaping into the Union lines; was captured however before he reached there.
J.C. Steed, (recalled by Cate). heard Cate say that he had secreted federal soldiers; believes it to be so as he saw one of the solders at the time. Remembers Cates telling how he deceived the rebels about his wheat and saved it; also that federals were taking his sheep. does not recollect telling Brownlow that Cate never secreted federal soldiers. Does not recollect the names of Cate’s rebel neighbors who considered him a rebel and wouldn’t tell if he did. Knows that Larrison and Cate have been unfriendly for years. Witness and Cate have not been neighborly since 1865. Witness refused to testify any further at this point and would not sign his deposition as given. (see certificate of Court)
Joseph R. Taylor, 42, farmer, Cleveland. Testifies to Cate’s crops and repeats the story of Cate’s and Blount’s intimacy and subsequent misunderstanding because Cate refused to become his surety. Impeaches Blounts’ character for honesty. Mr. Norman was witness’s guardian; Norman was poor and not in a condition to lend money; has known him to borrow money. Witness was a rebel. Considered Cate as loyal all the time, never heard his loyalty question. Had heard Cowan call Cate a Lincolnite.
William W. Wood, 44, merchant, Cleveland. Has always regarded Cate as loyal. knows that Blount and Cate were intimate for years. impeaches Blount’s character as an honest man.
James H. Brown, 66 (recalled). Saw rebel cattle pasturing on Cate’s land in December ‘62 and slaughtering of cattle then. This was in full view of J.C. Steed’s house. Steed afterwards bought some of these hides from the soldiers and they gave him some of the beef. Heard Cate tell the rebels he had no hay to spare and could not pasture their cattle, but they put them in his field against his will. heard cate tell Steed that the cattle were forced on him. Steed and Cate were very friendly until Steed’s dogs killed Cate’s hogs. Since then they have been unfriendly. Has known Captain Norman to bring letters from the Union lines and give them to Cate for distribution. Cate gave information to Norman and helped the refugees Norman took through the lines. Knows that Cate took his stock and hands and went to Mr. Cobb’s and threshed his wheat while Cobb was absent in the Union army. Knows that Larrison did not like Cate, yet regarded Cate as loyal. They were not on speaking terms during the war. Knows that cate assisted many Union men and conscripts.
James J.(S. ?) Roberson (recalled). Has met Cate at the secret meetings of Union men previously spoken of. has contributed money for conscripts who were lying out near Cate’s house; gave the money to Cate for them. Gives the reasons for Blount’s enmity to Cate. Was present when Cate told the federal commissary of the manner in which he saved his wheat from the rebels-by pretending it was “sick” wheat. Knows that the rebels did get sick by eating spoiled wheat flour; never heard it said that the federals suffered in that way. Confirms the barbecue story, as stated by Cate and other witnesses.
John H. Craigmiles, 48, banker, Cleveland. Was the owner of the Cleveland mills and was compelled to grind some “sick” wheat for the rebels; federals never had any grinding done there and never heard of their using “sick” wheat.
John H. Parker, 36, bankteller, Cleveland. Was in the rebel service, in same regiment with Cate’s son Henry. Henry was never stationed anywhere near his home and could not have been much protection for his father. Blount’s and Carruth’s (?) standing is not good.
John McReynolds, 62, farmer, Cleveland. Testifies to Cate’s usual crops. Understands that hard feelings exist between Larrison and Steed and Cate. Says Cate was always Union.
John W. Witcher, 43, clerk, Cleveland. Carruth has told witness that Cate was a strong Union man. Witness has always regarded Cate as such. Gives the cause of Blount’s enmity to Cate.
Commissioner Ramsey comments on the foregoing testimony and says he thinks there is no doubt of Cate’s loyalty.
James A. Hassell, 40, carpenter, Cleveland. Witness was Union. Worked at Cate’s house with other Union men. One of the carpenters was a rebel and talked that way, and Cate turned him off in a few days for that reason. This was in the fall of 1861. Relates instances in which Cate aided Union refugees during the war.
Opinion of Witnesses by John W. Ramsey